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Does SD Card speed really matter?

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October 11, 2007 4:52:15 AM

I have a Canon SD1000, 7.1 Megapixel camera. I am going to take regular every day pics and record 1-3 min videos every one in a while. I just want to buy the cheapest SD card that I can buy. Does the speed of the card really make a difference for what I want out of my camera? Can I just buy the base Sandisk card, without all the Ultra or Ultra II stuff and will that do the job. Any input will be appreciated. Thanks.

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October 21, 2007 10:33:36 AM

I do not know too much about digital camera, but I am sure that digital cameras have buffer (cache) to store data temporarily before transferring it to the SD card. The determining factor of the speed of the process following the "photo taking" will be the speed of the cache. Therefore, the speed of SD card does not matter in most cases.

Sometimes, you cannot record a long video due to the low speed of SD card, when you are using a high resolution and frame rate. In this case, the speed of SD card really matters.
October 21, 2007 11:51:19 PM

We're using that card in out digital camera, also a 7 megapixel, and using the way you describe and it works fine. If you're doing sequential action shots, e.g., a sporting event, then it can make a difference but your not likely to be taking these kind of pictures with than camera because of the limited optical zoom. I took some fireworks pictures and had to wait maybe 20 seconds or so between shots but of course it was dark and the camera set for fireworks but got plenty of good pictures. If haven't done so, suggest you turn of the digital zoom because it just deteriorates the quality of the pictures. If you want to take long distance pictures, your better off getting a camera with 12x or 18x optical zoom, which you can get for $400 or less.
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November 21, 2007 12:28:33 AM

Sorry for the the late reply. I'm sure you bought your memory card by now, but for anyone else here's the answer on standard vs. Ultra II. (standard speed vs higher speed)

It depends on the camera. Most if not all your basic point and shoot camera will not take advantage of high speed SD/CF cards. A few years ago I bought an $800 Olympus. It did not support the higher speed memory either.

The only ones that do are usually your higher end DSLR's. Things may have changed since the last time I bought my camera, especially as mega pixels get higher and higher, but if the camera does support a higher speed memory I'm sure it would be listed a feature of the camera and probably on the box or in the specs on the manufactures website.

The only real benefit from faster flash cards are load times when taking pictures. Usually not a problem with most cameras where you will probably take every picture as a jpeg. Load times really increase when shooting a .tif or .raw image. .tif and .raw pictures are uncompressed and can easily take 3-5 MB's per picture.

So, if you have a basic point and shoot save your money and buy the cheaper card. If you've moved into the DSLR range check the manufacture to see if it supports a higher speed card. If You do happen to buy a higher speed card I think the only other benefit would be if you use a card reader to transfer the pics into your computer.
December 11, 2007 3:27:09 PM

I brought a 2GB sd card (by ultra) for $12 including shipping


it has a max red/write speed of 10.2MB/s

and with it, on a canon powershot a560, I can take images at 2FPS or about 1.4-1.5 FPS for camera raw (using hacked firmware which unlocked the camera raw features)


and while using a 1 gb sd card which offered a faster read/write speed, around 12MB/s, the speed of taking pictures did not improve at all

I think the problem is that with point and shoot cameras, the processor in the camera is not fast enough to rapidly take photos and and save them at the same time, only the high end non slr and the digital slr cameras are able to do this


the best thing to do is to read the reviews of the cards but instead of looking for reviews about speed, look for reviews about how quality and how long the card will last

PS raw images if your using a hacked firmware on your canon, is usually around 6-7 MB in size and depending on the hardware in the camera, the images may be around 10-12 bits instead of the 16bit images of the high end digital slrs

!